All-New E-Musings Blog Launches With Trend Micro’s PC-Cillin Internet Security 2006 Beta Preview

Hi there! Welcome to E-Musings, the all-new home to my blog on new, free software and services from the Web. As promised a couple of weeks ago, the blog sports a whole new look. And’s hosted on its own URL. I’ll retain my older free hosting sites for a while until I’ve successfully transferred my archives to the new host. And what better way to begin a new era but by previewing the new Trend Micro PC-Cillin Internet Security 2006 Beta all-in-one security suite.

Besides the usual antivirus and firewall with Wi-Fi support, PC-Cillin Internet Security 2006 offers comprehensive anti-phishing and Internet fraud protection features. As well as enhanced anti-spyware and a new auto rollback system to prevent system problems. The suite is targeted at non-geek users who don’t want to fiddle to secure their information and computer. Trend’s Beta program no longer supports direct download. And you need to register first. If approved, you receive mail containing the download link. This by invitation only Beta runs until September 29, 2005.

PC-Cillin Internet Security 2006 (Beta) has improved over previous versions is many ways. Beginning with a considerably improved and speedier installer. That took less than 5 minutes to scan my hard drives for possible malware and complete the install. There are also improved, more visually-friendly graphics, more informative user dialogs and even a new system tray icon.

When installing you can choose the Full (and recommended) install of everything included. The alternate Minimum version excludes the firewall, Wi-Fi protection and real-time virus scanning. Once install completes, the program prompts for a system restart to activate its various security and privacy features.

Trend Micro PC-Cillin Internet Security 2006 component updatePC-Cillin Internet Security 2006 (Beta) is a child of its times and needs an active Internet connection on first-run! This posed a small problem as I still use dial-up on my test-bed computer. However once I dialed in to the Web, I clicked the Registration feature to activate my copy. Even the activation dialog seemed faster (and smoother) than before. This process uses an integrated 128-bit secured browser interface for product registration. The Beta has its serial number hard-coded and all I had to share was my name, postal address, telephone number and primary email ID.

Post activation and registration, the first system update downloaded is a huge 10 MB. I can’t understand why can’t invest in a script-driven install file system that ensures the setup file downloaded is as close to the latest release. Instead they usually offer setup files with outdated components. But I digress.

Trend Micro PC-Cillin Internet Security 2006 configure protection optionsWhen you first view the Control Panel, you’re prompted to setup Protection and Anti-Fraud. Protection is the master control and covers not only real-time virus and network scanning, but also inbound and sent mail scanning, real-time anti-spyware, anti-spam and fraud, web site filtering (required for anti-phishing), privacy protection and the firewall.

New Trend Micro PC-Cillin Internet Security 2006 anti-fraud Wizard

Anti-Fraud is a new feature that identifies Web sites and messages that trick users into sharing sensitive personal information such as credit card, bank account and Social Security numbers and other sensitive personal information. An extension of this module is a new anti-phishing toolbar for Internet Explorer (IE). This displays the actual URL and if the latter differs from what’s displayed in the Address Bar, you may be experiencing a phishing attack.

Trend Micro PC-Cillin Internet Security 2006 anti-phising tool for Internet ExplorerThe toolbar also manages spyware scans, an automatic vulnerability check (to see if your system lacks essential Windows security updates and patches), hosts file filtering, pop-up manager and an Advanced Pattern File and System Error Handling feature with auto-rollback when a program, hardware, or network error causes your computer to become unstable. Unfortunately, auto-rollback is buggy and managed to crash my computer twice. Ironically, the very application requiring rollback was a Internet Security 2006 Beta component!

Unfortunately, this Anti-Phishing Toolbar is for the core IE browser alone. Not only are Firefox users excluded. But so too are users of IE-wrappers (IE-addon browsers) such as AvantBrowser, Maxthon and NetCaptor. If you use Firefox or Internet Explorer (core), you may want to instead use Corestreet’s free Spoofstick browser add-in.

Network Security manages private network protection and can remotely manage up to 5 other computers on your LAN running Internet Security 2006 (Beta). While overall the new version offers considerable improvement over PC-Cillin Internet Security 2005. There are still several gray areas.

Like the spyware scan which remains quite superficial. And is feature-limited when compared to Microsoft Anti-Spyware that affords much better control over what’s being installed to your computer. The Windows Vulnerability services checker hasn’t improved either. It insists my computer needs 15 updates for Windows 2000 and Office! Except I don’t have Office installed any longer (I use the free OpenOffice.org suite instead). And according to Microsoft’s own Windows Update services, many of the detected vulnerabilities have either been superseded by subsequent updates. Or are not required for my computer’s configuration!

New Trend Micro PC-Cillin Internet Security 2006 file access permission dialogThe personal firewall is quite unchanged. With the only new feature being an enhanced access permission dialog that now includes information about a file’s properties. This helps review if a process seeking permission is valid or is a Trojan attempting to sneak past your defenses. There’s also a Wi-Fi detection feature to check for unauthorized intrusion attempts.

If you plan Beta testing this product or buying the final version, do double-check the default Firewall settings. I found that NetBIOS access (inwards- and outwards-bound) on Port 445 was enabled! NetBIOS may be fine on a secured company LAN where the protocol’s used by Windows computers to share information. But it has no place on the Internet. Actually, once you have successfully setup, activated and configured PC-Cillin Internet Security 2006 (Beta), you should double-check your security by running a port scan from an Internet site. Two great services are available at Gibson Research Corporation (GRC) and at DSL Reports.

More later. Stay safe and come back later this week for another update.

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